Squatters and Freeloaders

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mydakota1, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. mydakota1

    mydakota1 New Egg

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    I live in the PNW, on the east side of the Cascades and, like most of the country, we have been experiencing a pretty severe cold snap. During the course of the last week, I have had a flock of about 100 starlings decide to move in, lock, stock and barrel, into 3 of my pasture coops. Two of those coops do have an enclosed run, but the starlings fit through the fencing, and besides, I free-range my chickens during the day and the doors are usually open anyway. How in the world to I discourage the starlings from taking over the coops? They are seriously soiling my birds water, and feeders, and just as bad, they are devouring an obscene amount of feed. A bag of feed used to last me about 5 days. They are now stripping it out at the rate of a bag a day. I just can not afford that. They have to go. They are pretty fearless. I also live in an area of 5-6 acre places and we aren't really supposed to shoot out here. I have a pretty good egg business that I rely on to supplement my income. My husband was killed in an accident a little over a year ago, and I am raising 2 teenaged sons. I rely on that egg money. I also simply can NOT afford to feed starlings a bag of quality chicken feed every day. I have had chickens here for 5 years or more and never had this kind of problem before. I am sure I lost a bit of feed here and there. I didn't mind that really. But this has gotten CRAZY.
     
  2. wsufans

    wsufans Out Of The Brooder

    that's a toughie because starlings are PERSISTENT! We keep our girls penned up due to predatory dogs in our area so we did a "double" chicken-wire layer so that the layers were offset and the starlings couldn't get through....
     
  3. mydakota1

    mydakota1 New Egg

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    Part of why I have a good egg business is that my girls are "pastured". They free range. There is a large locavore movement here, and people will drive over an hour to buy eggs from pastured chickens. This means that my runs are open from first light until the girls come in and roost. Even if I changed the wire, the birds could just fly in through the door. When you open the door to the coop and try to walk in, you have to duck because at least 50 of the danged starlings explode out through the door to get away from you. I am pretty sure I could catch quite a few by simply putting up a large salmon net and throwing the door open. But what to do with them then? I don't really have a problem with killing them, but we live in an area of 5 and 6 acre lots that doesn't allow shooting. I can't bring myself to drown them. (seems too slow and cruel) But the HAVE to go. Have to. Just not sure how to accomplish it. I am worried about lice and disease, as well as the massive amounts of food they are consuming.
     
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you just put feed out in the evening when you lock your chickens in the coops.? This way there is no feed available during the day and the feed is locked in the coops in the evening. Can the starlings get in the locked coops?

    If that doesn't work, I would take away all chicken feed for at least a day and hopefully the starlings will get the hint that the smorgasbord is closed. This should not be too hard on the chickens since they are free ranging, or being pastured as you call it.

    If that doesn't work, the idea of using a net may be good. And you could try something that makes a loud noise once in a while to scare them away. I know rice farmers use carbide cannons to scare away birds. You might try banging a trash can or something. Maybe an electronic device that blasts random noises or dog barks would scare the birds away.

    If you had a dog trained not to chase chickens but to chase away everything else, that would probably work. Maybe you could borrow a dog for a while? I am just trying to think of ideas.

    Maybe a hawk or owl statue placed by each coop would keep the starlings away?

    I hope you are able to get rid of these birds soon.
     
  5. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    You could either build or buy a rodent proof treadle feeder. Make it require the weight of a biddy, not a starling.
     
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a great idea.


    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. mydakota1

    mydakota1 New Egg

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    Dec 10, 2013
    I LOVE that feeder. I wonder where I can get one? Will be googling that for sure. I don't really want to take away the food for a day because we have been having a cold snap (night before last was -27) and they really need to eat well. The pasture is currently under snow, so not much to be gleaned there. LOVE the feeder though.
     
  8. mydakota1

    mydakota1 New Egg

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    Dec 10, 2013
    And to add about feeding at night, which otherwise is probably a good idea. When my girls go in it is to sleep. I don't have electricity down to the pasture coops, so there is no supplemental light. No light to feed by.
     
  9. mydakota1

    mydakota1 New Egg

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    Okay, I just ordered a large treadle feeder. Can't wait to see how it works. I would far rather just convince the wild birds that the cafeteria is closed and to move on than to kill them. I will do whatever I have to to get rid of them, but if I can do so peacefully I would prefer it.
     
  10. Bitterroot

    Bitterroot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    BB gun. [​IMG] Or put an ad on craigslist that you'd like a falconer with a kestrel to come have some fun. Kestrel is too small to hurt your chickens, and they're murder for starlings. The flights are fantastic to watch, too.
     

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